Kaieteur News – Seven coronavirus-related deaths were recorded yesterday. But do not expect any major alarm bells; the average age of those dying was 69 years – the elderly who have been treated with scant respect during this pandemic.
Had the average age of those dying been 40 years or lower, there would have been chorus of calls for a lockdown. But the elderly have been treated as expendable during this pandemic.
As some have observed on social media, people are dying by the droves in Guyana, yet the streets are crowded daily. The majority of persons are going about their life as if things are normal.
But things are not normal. Make no mistake about it, the pandemic is coming to an end around the world. The number of daily new cases and the number of deaths normally, when plotted on a bar chart, shows a clear bell curve pattern, indicative that the vaccination is working and the pandemic is being crushed, slowly but surely.
However, in Guyana, where the government is glibly boasting about 46 percent of the adult population receiving their first dose of the vaccine, the infections and deaths are peaking. The seven deaths reported yesterday is the second highest daily toll, if you subtract the 13 deaths, which were reported on May 26 due to an adjustment entry.
Over the past few months, there has been a steep spike in cases and deaths. In addressing the nation, the President has said that April was a crucial month and he promised that more soldiers and police would have been out in the streets enforcing the regulations.
If they were, they must have been operating like ninjas. The public has not seen an increased presence of the Disciplined Services enforcing the anti-COVID-19 regulations.
The situation, rather than improving, has gotten worse. In April, there was an increase in cases of more than 80 percent in infections and deaths. Things did not get any better in May where deaths increased by 50 percent higher than the previous month, even though new infections increased by 20 percent.
The government is not even interested in extending the night time curfew. The media is totally disinterested in making a case for tightening social restrictions and the public, at large, is not crying out for a lockdown.
This leaves the only options open to be testing and vaccination. But in both of these instances, there are serious and grave problems. The government has not yet gotten its testing right. It still takes two days for test results to be made public. For seriously ill persons, these two days can mean the difference between life and death. By now, the testing capacity should have been increased to the point whereby 5,000 persons could have been tested daily with results the same day.
Same day PCR test results is still not being realisable. And this has been a signal failure of the Ministry of Health. If anything, this should have been fixed since it would have allowed for mass testing which still cannot be achieved in Guyana, more than one year into the pandemic.
The government should now try to engage in mass testing. This is the only way it can help check infections using testing since contact tracing is virtually negligible in Guyana.
The government is also hoping to vaccinate the country out of the pandemic. But it faces two obstacles, one of which it is admitting and the other one of which it is not admitting.
Herd immunity of 75 percent of the population cannot be achieved. The under-18 population is more than 25 percent and therefore 75 percent of the population cannot be immunised through vaccination.
But the second obstacle, which the government faces is vaccine resistance. This is not unique to Guyana but is also occurring in the developed world. The government is now being forced to go house-to-house in Region 10 to try to increase the inoculation rate in that Region.
It should not worry. If people do not value their lives enough to go and get themselves and their elderly loved ones vaccinated, the government should not have to go house-to-house.
What the government should do is to focus now on ensuring that the more than 35 percent of the adult population above 55 years are vaccinated. The government should request communities to do a census of their elderly who have not yet received the jab and arrangements should be made to offer the jab to those desirous of being vaccinated.
Given the reluctance to intensify social restrictions, this may be the most efficient strategy available to reduce deaths. The Minister of Human Services and Social Security should lead the charge within Cabinet for this to happen.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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